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The Hunt for 5 Stars

What does a 5 star product look like?

“What does a 5 star interactive media product for children look like?” At CTR, this question is our holy grail. Like the moving world record line that is super-imposed over an Olympic swimming event, it represents the continually fluid yardstick for quality that we hold every app, game, toy or site against. This fuzzy line is certainly something every developer thinks about. After all, who wouldn’t want a 5 star rating?

We feel that the proper identification of a five star product is both a science and an art. To bring some science to the process, we use a non-perfect but standardized* instrument, online at http://childrenstech.com/evaluation-instrument that was designed at the dawn of digital media (1984) as an effort to capture such factors as the quality of the images and sounds, the amount of content, being high in child control and being free of gender and/or ethnic bias. This instrument is the DNA of CTR; it reminds our reviewers to look for specific attributes. However, because children’s IM products vary greatly the process of assigning ratings that have external validity cannot be automated. This takes an in-depth knowledge of the current state-of-the-art. This knowledge is why we’re so excited about the products we’re reviewing right now. There has never been a time when children have had so many quality digital options, for such an affordable price, and our August issue is proof. Consider both The Sonnets by William Shakespeare and Gems and Jewels (by TouchPress), and the free LEGO Creationary; as well as the app on the cover, called ABC ZooBorns by Peapod Labs. But pay special attention to Bugs and Bubbles, an iPad app that has received one of our elusive 5 star ratings. To put this accomplishment into perspective, since 1993, just 44 out of 13,684  (.03%) of the products we’ve considered have received our “perfect” score.  To help you understand our thinking behind this rating, we’ve made a video http://youtu.be/lKslFZdj1Ak. If you’d like to see the 28 highest rated (>4.5 stars) products so far this year, visit http://bit.ly/RhuV8i
* meaning different raters have achieved inter-rater reliability when using the same instrument on different products

LINKS RELATED TO MEASUREMENT OF QUALITY
About the Ratings: The Children’s Interactive Media Rating Instrument http://childrenstech.com/evaluation-instrument ‎ Children’s Technology Review is a longitudinal study of children’s interactive media products that started in 1985. The reviews and ratings are housed in an internal database with 12,522 commercial products (as of May 2011) for approximately 18 platforms. Subscribers have online access to select fields from this database.

The hunt for 5 Stars  http://childrenstech.com/?p=9867  “What does a 5 star interactive media product for children look like?” At CTR, this question is our holy grail. Like the moving world record line that is super-imposed over an Olympic swimming event, it represents the continually fluid yardstick for quality that we hold every app, game, toy or site against. This fuzzy line is certainly something every developer thinks about. After all, who wouldn’t want a 5 star rating?

 
Are These 5 Star iTunes Ratings for Real?
http://childrenstech.com/blog/archives/12034
We’re not going to accuse somebody of posting fake ratings. But when a poorly designed app gets 23 five star ratings, things start to look fishy. If you’re the publisher and you’d like explain what’s going on, or if you’ve written one of these reviews and can vouch for your rating, please post a reply…
 
 10,500 Objective Reviews, At Your Fingertips http://childrenstech.com/?p=9799 August 1, 2012, Flemington, NJ. Effective immediately, Children’s Technology Review reviews will be easier to find, and they’ll look better, too.  The improved format includes an cleaner, easier-to-browse layout and one-click search scripts, making it possible to zoom in on the reviews you want. The database is available to only CTR subscribers.
 
CTR, May 2012: Low Ratings and Sad Faces. http://childrenstech.com/?p=6774 We’re always sorry to give any product a less-than-glowing-review, but like a doctor that tells you need to loose a few pounds, our job can’t involve hurt feelings. Will our rating of a product change? Not unless the product does, and that leads our readers to a question we think about a lot. “How can a product earn five stars?”  
Filed in: Ages, Research

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